history of the phrase ‘are you there with your bears?’

16th century—exclamation of annoyance at the reappearance of someone or something—from bear-leaders’ regular visits or from story of Elisha and the bears

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no love lost

  illustration for Children in the Wood: or, The Norfolk Gentleman’s last Will and Testament (1818)     The phrase there’s no, or little, or not much, love lost between means there is mutual dislike between. This expression is ambiguous, and has also been used to mean there is mutual affection between. Both senses are found in Clarissa; or, The history of a young […]

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meanings and origin of the phrase ‘no love lost’

  illustration for Children in the Wood: or, The Norfolk Gentleman’s last Will and Testament (1818)     The phrase there’s no, or little, or not much, love lost between means there is mutual dislike between. This expression is ambiguous, and has also been used to mean there is mutual affection between. Both senses are found in Clarissa; or, The history of a young […]

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flirt

  photograph: Famille Michaud, beekeepers since 1920     MAIN MEANINGS   – verb: to behave as though sexually attracted to someone, but playfully rather than with serious intentions – noun: a person who acts flirtatiously   ORIGIN   The verb flirt is probably onomatopoeic, the phonetic elements /fl-/ and /-əːt/ both suggesting sudden movement. […]

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origin and history of the word ‘flirt’

  photograph: Famille Michaud, beekeepers since 1920     MAIN MEANINGS   – verb: to behave as though sexually attracted to someone, but playfully rather than with serious intentions – noun: a person who acts flirtatiously   ORIGIN   The verb flirt is probably onomatopoeic, the phonetic elements /fl-/ and /-əːt/ both suggesting sudden movement. […]

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a pretty kettle of fish

  Oxford English Dictionary (1st edition – 1901): kettle net under the headword kettle kettle net under the headword kiddle   MEANING   The phrase a pretty (or fine) kettle of fish means an awkward state of affairs.   ORIGIN   There is an obvious error in the Oxford English Dictionary (1st edition – 1901): under the […]

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the authentic origin of ‘a pretty kettle of fish’

The phrase ‘a pretty kettle of fish’ originally referred to a net full of fish, which, when drawn up with its contents, is suggestive of confusion, flurry and disorder—‘kettle’ being a form of ‘kiddle’, a noun denoting a dam or other barrier in a river, with an opening fitted with nets to catch fish.

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